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Why Are People So Interested in This Tiger Woods Thing?

So. Unless you've been living in a cave, you know by now that Tiger Woods got into a car accident on Friday morning. A media frenzy followed, fueled by a rumor of Tiger's infidelity and his silence over the whole thing. Today, he announced that he wouldn't play in his own golf tournament.

Talking heads proclaim that the public is due an explanation, and that the story simply isn't going to go away without a public accounting of who (Tiger) had done what (or whom, as it were implied).

No, this post isn't about Tiger, his accident, alleged affair, or whatnot. I don't care about that - but what is interesting to me is why people care about such matters. If you follow this kind of news, let me ask you: what is it about celebrities that capture your fancy? What is so interesting about Jon and Kate, or Brad and Angelina or whomever.

Jaye L. Derrick and Shira Gabriel of the Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY, published a study that "connections" to celebrities or parasocial relationships, allow people with low self-esteem to view themselves more positively:

The current research demonstrates that parasocial relationships can have self-enhancing benefits for low self-esteem people that they do not receive in real relationships. These parasocial relationships, which have very low risk of rejection, offer low self-esteem people an opportunity to reduce their self-discrepancies and feel closer to their ideal selves.

“Even ‘fake’ relationships with celebrities, relationships without any actual contact, can have benefits for the self,” the authors conclude. “We found that parasocial relationships can sometimes have benefits for people with low-self esteem that ‘real’ relationships do not.”

Or is it genetics? Duke University Medical Center neurobiologist Michael Platt found that adult rhesus macaque monkeys would pay (by giving up their favorite drink, Juicy Juice cheery juice) to look at images of dominant "celebrity" monkey of their pack.

So here's my question to you again: What's so captivating about celebrities?

(Photo: Jim Epler [Flickr])

People want to see people more privileged then themselves suffer and fail every once and a while. They are jealous of the perceived fame and notoriety of people put up in front of them who appear to be more successful, happy, better looking, wealthier or generally more advantaged than themselves.

They followers are jealous because these others lead what they see as "too good a life" and want to see them as less than perfect, just like themselves. Through their failures and misfortunes, they identify (or vilify) the famous person in the way they want. This makes the viewer more content.
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Yup, for some it does feel good to 'tear down' these celebs. It makes the 'average folk' feel better about themselves and vent their anger and frustrations in life out on these apparently spoiled celebs.

Others just are fascinated with the whole celeb thing like they are fascinated with gossiping amongst their friends/coworkers.
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The celebrity allure is a complicated issue, but Zavatone nails a large portion of it. Also, as I discovered when writing on the topic many years ago, people see stars in a rather intimate corner of their brain wherein they actually perceive them to be their friends (or nemeses)in a meta way.

So when things like this happen, they feel concern (or elation) for the celebrity's situation.
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The Young and the Restless Tiger Wood's World Turns with All My Children at the General Hospital. That is why they are interested. Freaking drama is all some people got. %(
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Not to detract from the tone of the article, but one of the UK's tabloids came up with the following headline:

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Its basically boredom and people's incessant need to complain about stuff. People are just channeling their inner bitchiness, and the 24/7 news cycle gives them plenty of fodder. Complaining is, and always has been, the world's number one hobby.
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Im interested because the guy smashed a fire hydrant and wrecked on the city street, yet he gets to set appointments to talk to the police. Not only that, but gets to cancel appointments to talk to the police. If that was me, I would have been issued a ticket or even hauled off to jail for that same thing.
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I am incredibly NOT interested in celebrities. I have to think very hard to tell Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt apart in my head and as a general rule, I have no idea what a celebrity you happen to mention looks like. "Which one is that?" is my general response. I couldn't care less about Jon and Kate or Tiger Woods. I don't care about them any more than I care about average people. Because they ARE average people. They just happen to have neat jobs. Big deal.
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Simple: Most people have boring, mundane lives and thinking they get an inside peek at celebs' "fascinating" alternative existence somehow makes drawing that next ho-hum breath worth while.

@Church: You sir, earn a rofl! Well played.
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It sounds to me like legally he doesn't need to talk to the cops about it, and so he hasn't. That sounds like the same thing I would decide if I ran into a fire hydrant pulling out of my driveway.

The media is just doing what they do. If anyone is acting shifty in this, it's the cops, saying they just want to talk to him, when clearly they are looking for any charges they can come up with.

As far as I'm concerned, if they say he wasn't drunk and he pays for the damages, I don't see where the problem is.
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Tiger.... is this that animal that sells breakfast cereal? Or that old Exxon deal about putting a tiger in your tank? Did it get lost in the woods?
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I'm not convinced anyone outside the media is interested. I chat with a lot of people during the day, and when something really interests the general public I hear about it. Not a word about Tiger, though.
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Count me among the uninterested. I just know about it because media decides to cram it down my throat.

With the advent of 24/7 news reporting, news networks found out something alarming: there actually isn't enough news to report on. So events that would have been relegated to the trivia section a decade or so ago are now Top Stories with Breaking News Flashes and In Depth Coverage and Detailed Analysis.

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We are hearing about him for the same reason we are hearing Sarah Palin and her novel or about the pressing fear that Obama may lose reelection in 2012 because somebody in Virgina voted Republican.

Slow news day -- 24 hours of news coverage. The talking heads cannot just go away until something happens. They have to find something to report and do it fast (facts be damned) before the other networks find something else more sexy to report.
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Celeb worship is on par with sports fanaticism. Substitute a few nouns and two guys raving about sports is the same as two tweens gossiping and cooing about some teen heart throb.
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I don't really care much about Tiger Woods. But I can't believe the monkeys will give up the Juicy Juice Cherry juice. That's some good stuff!
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I was kinda bummed that the ABC Newscast tonight spent more time on this than the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. It reminds me of the media culture on 9/10/01 with Gary Condit and Anne Heche burying stories about spies being killed by al Qaeda.
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I agree with many here: It can be a distraction. It can give a sense of drama and excitement. We tend to idealize the lives of others, and especially celebrities, so this is a way to balance that view. And we get to feel better about ourselves - "I may not be rich and famous, but at least I know how to not hit fire hydrants".
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Some of us aren't interested. Probably many of us, possibly even most of us; but that has nothing to do with the media's perception of what a story is.
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"Geez, the guy shows up in my living room at least once a day and tells me what to buy. Suddenly he's all about privacy?"

HAhaha. +1 :-)
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"Talking heads proclaim that the public is due an explanation, and that the story simply isn’t going to go away without a public accounting of who (Tiger) had done what (or whom, as it were implied)."

Where were these "talking heads" when the last Republican Vice-President shot an octagenarian POINT-BLANK in the FACE with a shotgun?
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Personally, I'm sick to death of all the celebrity crap. I don't seek out any information on any of them. I only pay attention in a peripheral way simply for the pop culture trivia aspect for when I have game nights with my friends. Otherwise, they could all fall into a pit for all I care.
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I wish I lived in a cave. Somebody gets in a car accident, and it's written up in a police report. Tiger gets in one, and its front page news. there's a reason why those two situations are different, but I just can't figure it out.
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Is it the regular folks who are interested or is it the stupid media clowns who need to fill time on a 24hr news feed? If the folks in the "news" dept. weren't throwing this out there 24/7 would the rest of us really care? I'm more annoyed by this coverage than anything else.
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neal -1 internets for not being funny

!elbakrameR® -111 internets for trying waaaay too hard to find a way to bring the Bush administration into something that has absolutely nothing at all whatsoever with politics...and failing to to it well
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It's because communities and social circles have changed. In the olden days, communities were small and you could gossip about the townsfolk and everyone you talked to would know who she was and find the story interesting. Your gossip was relevant and not only does the gossip provide a great conversation starter, but it helps reinforce and spread the society's morals and values and behavioral standards.

Now, not everyone you want to talk to knows each other. The girl you work with doesn't know your cousin, so your cousin having an affair isn't good gossip anymore. Your waitress doesn't know the mother of the child in your kid's dance class that might be pregnant. Your sister doesn't know your friend that's going to have to go rehab. But they all "know" Angelina Jolie and Tiger Woods.

The gossip is the same gossip it's always been. It's as important and fascinating as it's always been. It's just moved from local people to nationally known figures. The town tramp isn't Mrs. Johnson anymore, it's Paris Hilton. The town drunk isn't Mr.Brown anymore, it's Amy Winehouse.
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No one cares except the media vultures who try to make us care by putting these stories on the air / newspapers / internet. Case in point: Lyndsey Lohan is all over the news, but no one really gives a crap. If she disappeared from the news tomorrow (oh please please) no one would sit around wondering, "Gee whiz, I wonder what LiLo is doing right now? I sure do miss her."
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Nothing! they are boring!
Except the celebreties of my region, why? because they show actual interesting and unique dramatic art talent and even when its not their job! But even so, i would never care about their pictures or their lives anyway.
As for other people, i do not know, are their brain that pathetic?
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first I heard of this.

sticking strictly to dvd's, hulu and mp3's keeps me pretty sheltered and my closest coworkers don't usually gossip about this tripe either.

work, play, sleep!
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